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After 2-year lull, party street restaurants see a bigger and better Christmas crowd



KOLKATA: The city’s party hub saw a surge in food and liquor sales on Christmas after a two-year dip, with restaurants across Park Street staying choc-a-bloc on Tuesday, with most doing more brisk business than the last two Yuletides.

It could lead to a 20%-25% rise in footfalls during the year-end festivity that had just ensued, said restaurant owners, who are banking on the big last weekend of the year that begins on Friday evening (December 28) and ends with New Year’s Eve on Monday. “We had been expecting a larger turnout this time and it came true. The reason could be two-fold. First, food and liquor prices have remained unchanged this year. Secondly, there was no ambiguity regarding the tax structure, unlike last year, when GST had just been implemented. The chill and the bright sun helped,” said Pratap Daryanani, owner of Oasis, a Park Street restaurant.

On Christmas Day, the crowd started building up as early as 11am and was at its peak between 8.30pm and 11.30pm. But even as the revelry reached a feverish pitch late evening with thousands streaming down the road, entry to restaurants remained unrestricted. “Crowd management was efficient. As no vehicle was allowed on Park Street in the evening, diners had a smooth passage, despite the sea of people. Also, more families visited the restaurants and that ensured discipline,” Daryanani added.

Park Street had perhaps never seen a bigger and a better Christmas crowd in the last five years, said Nitin Kothari, owner of the iconic Peter Cat and Mocambo restaurants on Park Street. “This should persist. The last two years had been ordinary due to demonetization and the GST confusion. With no such confusion this time, Park Street is back on track,” he said, adding while food sales soared, that of liquor had been stable. “This could be because Christmas is largely a family affair, with the preference being good food. Most restrict their drinks to one beer or a couple of pegs of whisky. But New Year’s Eve could be different.”

Though the restaurant closing time has been extended to 3am this year-end, Park Street eateries shut by 1am on Christmas. “People usually stay out late on Christmas Eve, rather than on Christmas. But that sales were up despite a reasonably early closure indicates a big turnout,” said a restaurant manager.

The restaurants did not see any abatement in visitors even on Wednesday. “The day after Christmas usually sees a lull. But most restaurants remained packed,” said Daryanani.

The year-end was set to be good not only for Park Street but in other parts too, said Hotel and Restaurants Association of India executive committee president Sudesh Poddar. “We are looking at a four-day year-end celebration, with a 20% surge in footfalls. We will end the year with a bang,” said Poddar.

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